Thick blackstrap molasses slowly pours from an overfilled spoon to a dish below.

Molasses is a viscous by-product of the processing of sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets into sugar. The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which ultimately comes from mel, the Latin word for "honey".[1] The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet, the amount of sugar extracted, and the method of extraction. Sweet sorghum syrup is known in some parts of the United States as molasses, though it is not true molasses.


Cane molasses

A bottle of molasses.

Sulphured molasses is made from young sugar cane. Sulphur dioxide, which acts as a preservative, is added during the sugar extraction process. Unsulphured molasses is made from mature sugar cane, which does not require such treatment. There are three grades of molasses: mild or barbados, also known as first molasses; dark, or second molasses; and blackstrap. These grades may be sulphured or unsulphured.

To make molasses, the cane of a sugar plant is harvested and stripped of its leaves. Its juice is extracted usually by crushing or mashing, but also by cutting. The juice is boiled to concentrate it, which promotes the crystallisation of the sugar. The result of this first boiling and of the sugar crystals is first molasses, which has the highest sugar content because comparatively little sugar has been extracted from the source. Second molasses is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter tinge to its taste.

The third boiling of the sugar syrup makes blackstrap molasses. The term is an Americanism dating from around 1920. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized and removed. The calorie content of blackstrap molasses is still mostly from the small remaining sugar content.[2] However, unlike refined sugars, it contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients.[3] Blackstrap has long been sold as a health supplement. It is also used in the manufacture of ethyl alcohol for industry and as an ingredient in cattle feed.

Sugar beet molasses

Molasses coming from sugar beet is different from sugar cane molasses. Only the syrup left from the final crystallization stage is called molasses; intermediate syrups are referred to as high green and low green, and these are recycled within the crystallization plant to maximize extraction. Beet molasses is about 50% sugar by dry weight, predominantly sucrose, but also contains significant amounts of glucose and fructose. Beet molasses is limited in biotin (Vitamin H or B7) for cell growth; hence, it may need to be supplemented with a biotin source. The nonsugar content includes many salts, such as calcium, potassium, oxalate, and chloride. It also contains the compounds betaine and the trisaccharide raffinose. These are either as a result of concentration from the original plant material or as a result of chemicals used in the processing, and make it unpalatable to humans. Hence it is mainly used as an additive to animal feed (called "molassed sugar beet feed") or as a fermentation feedstock.[citation needed]

It is possible to extract additional sugar from beet molasses through a process known as molasses desugarisation. This technique exploits industrial-scale chromatography to separate sucrose from nonsugar components. The technique is economically viable in trade-protected areas, where the price of sugar is supported above the world market price. As such, it is practiced in the U.S.[4] and parts of Europe. Molasses is also used for yeast production.


Cane molasses is a common ingredient in baking, often used in baked goods such as gingerbread cookies. There are a number of substitutions that can be made for molasses. For a given volume of molasses, one of the following may be used (with varying degrees of success):

Other forms

In the cuisines of the Middle East, molasses is produced from several other materials such as carob, grapes, dates, pomegranates, and mulberries.

Nonculinary uses

Because of its unusual properties, molasses has several uses beyond that of a straightforward food additive.

Other food and consumption derivatives

  • Molasses can be used as the base material for fermentation into rum.
  • Molasses is commonly used in dark brewed beverages like stout and very heavy dark ales.
  • Molasses is added to some brands of tobacco used for smoking through a Middle Eastern water pipe (e.g., hookah, shisha, narghile, etc.). It is mixed into the tobacco along with glycerine and flavorings; sometimes it is used along with honey and other syrups or fully substituted by them. Brands that use molasses include Nakhla, Tangiers and Salloum.
  • Blackstrap molasses may also be used as an iron supplement for those who cannot tolerate the constipation associated with other iron supplementation.
  • Molasses is used as an additive in livestock grains.
  • Molasses is used in fishing groundbait.



  • Molasses can be used as a chelating agent to remove rust where a rusted part stays a few weeks in a mixture of 1 part molasses and 10 parts water.
  • Molasses can be used as a minor component of mortar for brickwork.[6]
  • Ink rollers on printing presses were originally cast using a mixture of molasses and glue.



  • Molasses can be added to the soil of almost any plant to promote microbial activity.[7]


  • Molasses contains the disaccharide sucrose. This sugar does NOT substitute as a flowering enhancer in hydroponic gardening. Sucrose cannot be transferred through a plant's cell membrane and therefore can not be used by the plant for cellular production. Other substitute "sugar boosters" for hydroponics contain deoxyribose, lyxose, ribose, xylulose, and xylose. These simple and complex carbohydrates are the main components of cellular reproduction, and deliver an immediately usable form of energy to the plant, which would normally rely on a soil-type organic medium for beneficial microbial activity.[8][9]

Nutritional information

Each tablespoon of molasses (20g) contains 58 Kcal , 14.95g of Carbohydrates and 11.10g of sugar divided among:[10]

  • Sucrose: 5.88g
  • Glucose: 2.38g
  • Fructose: 2.56g

It has no protein, fibers or fat

See also


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Molasses — Mo*las ses, n. [F. m[ e]lasse, cf. Sp. melaza, Pg. mela[,c]o, fr. L. mellaceus honeylike, honey sweet, mel, mellis, honey. See {Mellifluous}, and cf. {Melasses}.] The thick, brown or dark colored, viscid, uncrystallizable sirup which drains from… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • molasses — (n.) 1580s, from Port. melaço, from L.L. mellaceum new wine, properly neuter of mellaceus resembling honey, from L. mel (gen. mellis) honey (see MELISSA (Cf. Melissa)). Adopted in English in plural form, but regarded as a singular noun …   Etymology dictionary

  • molasses — ► NOUN 1) a thick, dark brown liquid obtained from raw sugar during the refining process. 2) N. Amer. golden syrup. ORIGIN from Latin mellacium must , from mel honey …   English terms dictionary

  • molasses — [mə las′iz] n. [< Port melaço < LL mellaceum, must < L mellaceus, resembling honey < mel, honey: see MILDEW] a thick, usually dark brown syrup produced during the refining of sugar, or from sorghum, etc …   English World dictionary

  • molasses — /meuh las iz/, n. a thick syrup produced during the refining of sugar or from sorghum, varying from light to dark brown in color. [1575 85; earlier molassos, molasso(e)s < Pg melaços, pl. of MELAÇO ( < LL mellacium half boiled new wine, for… …   Universalium

  • molasses — noun Etymology: modification of Portuguese melaço, from Late Latin mellaceum grape juice, from Latin mell , mel honey more at mellifluous Date: 1582 1. the thick dark to light brown syrup that is separated from raw sugar in sugar manufacture 2. a …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • molasses — [16] The etymological connections of molasses are with ‘honey’ rather than ‘sugar’. It comes via Portuguese melaço from late Latin mellāceum ‘fermenting grape juice, new wine’. This was a derivative of mel ‘honey’, source of English mellifluous… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • molasses — [[t]məlæ̱sɪz[/t]] N UNCOUNT Molasses is a thick, dark brown syrup which is produced when sugar is processed. It is used in cooking …   English dictionary

  • molasses n — There was a mamma mole, a papa mole, and a baby mole. They lived in a hole outside of a farm house out in the country. The papa mole reached his head out of the hole and said, Mmmmm, I smell sausage. The mama mole reached her head outside of the… …   English expressions

  • molasses — melasa statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Sirupas, liekantis iškristalizavus cukrinių runkelių cukrų. atitikmenys: angl. molasses rus. меласса; свекловичная патока …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

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